The Young Leaders of Today and Sherwood Forest/Paradise Park Community Association, Inc presented, “Shhh… Let the Youth Speak: Series II,“at the Bob Hayes Legends Center to tackle issues effecting youth the most.
The dialogue session was a student-led round table discussion about juvenile justice in the city. Panelist included Vanessa Wheeler-Sanchez (State Attorney’s Office), Maria Bardo-Colon (Public Defender’s Office) and Jacksonville Sheriffs Officer Deon Johnson. Moderated by the youth, questions from the audience included the legal process and the Juvenile Justice System. with a focus on programs and next steps.
“It was an eye opener to hear the concerns voiced by the young panelists concerning the juvenile justice system, and areas where improvements needs to be made,” saidsponsor Eunice Barnum. State Attorney Barroeo shared that 80% of the juveniles in the system are African-American, dominating White and Asian youth with school offenses.
Officer Deon Johnson discussed the Duval County juvenile system programs that assists incarcerated juveniles with completing their high school diploma and job placement. Also included in the conversations are the psychological effects, traumas, and mental health components and follow-up treatments. “We have to educate every child so that they have a future. Many of these juveniles are facing serious consequences, we have to continue providing the resources and the confidence to change their future” said Johnson.
“As students preparing to enter the world, we want to redress some of the issues confronting us today, and gain solutions, resolves and seek corrections to the problems as we see them,” said Rodney Wells, II, Bishop Kenny Student and founder of Young Leaders Today.
Young Leaders of Today is a student based, founded and governed organization, whose mission is to empower and engage young men and women through civic and social action. Last year, the organization held a similar event with March for Our Lives Jax, that brought over a hundred attendees, to discuss the violence in Jacksonville.
Shown are panelists l-r Vanessa Wheeler-Sanchez (Assistant State Attorney), Deyona Burton (Lee High), Maria Bardo-Colon (Assistant Public Defender), Evan Quaintance (Lee High) and JSO Officer Deon Johnson.